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Flood destroyed a tiny but important part of Princeton

Owners of Riverside Cabins managed to get 12 guests to safety the night of the November 2021 flood
The owners were able to evacuate 12 guests as the property flooded. Photo Andrea DeMeer

The flood of November 2021 devastated many homes in Princeton.

It also completely decimated an entire, small community within the town, known as Riverside Cabins.

Gordon Daw and his wife Tami purchased the resort in 2005.

They were directly in the path of the epicentre of the flood, where the dike of the Tulameen River collapsed, leaving but a few minutes for the Daws and their guests to find safety.

The aftermath is little better, Daw told the Spotlight. While the couple has $700,000 in commercial insurance, the damage to the property is estimated at $1.7 million, and nobody is sure where compensation is coming from.

“I’m not sure what my rights are,” said Daw.

There were 15 cabins, along with an office and manager’s suite.

The buildings have a remarkable history in Princeton, as they were moved here from a defunct gold mining camp in 1932.

When they were purchased “they were in really rough shape,” said Daw.

Eventually, renovations were completed and the Riverside was open for business. Some of the cabins were rented to seasonal visitors, but others were reserved as a housing option for low-income residents who had few choices.

“They didn’t have a lot of help, the elderly, so I would help them out.”

There are many stories of good times, communal dinners and fireside gatherings at the Riverside.

The Daws also believed in giving breaks to vacationers, because they enjoyed the company.

“People would come up for a couple of days and I’ve give them such a deal,” he explained.

“Instead of them paying $60 a night I would charge them $40 a night and then they could stay for five days. There are just a lot of families that could not afford one of the fancier places.”

However, November 14, 2021, is a night the couple will never forget.

“At first it was like a normal Sunday night. I hadn’t heard anything and it’s not like I went out to view the river all the time.

“But something didn’t feel right so I said to my wife, ‘You should put on your sweatpants. I just have a bad feeling.”

They’d just gone to bed, at about 11 p.m., when they received a call from a municipal employee telling them to evacuate immediately.

“I had 12 guests that night and I got them all out in time,” he said with relief. “We grabbed our computers and our photos and got into the truck.”

By that point, two-and-a-half feet of water was on the ground. The Daws also secured their three dogs.

“If anyone had gotten hurt or lost a pet I would have felt really bad,” he said.

After sleeping that night in the truck, and another night in a hotel, Gordon and Tami moved in with her father James Beach, in Princeton. They remain there while they search for solutions, and possible government funding streams to compensate for their losses.

Daw said he didn’t fully understand what options might be available to them, and were told that because there is an insurance policy they might not qualify for help.

Tami’s daughter Tara Kennedy has a slightly different explanation.

“They’re very independent people and have never had to ask anyone for any kind of help, aside from hiring people to do work for them.”

She told the Spotlight her mother said there are others who need help more, and they only received some initial emergency assistance for food and clothing.

“I have a feeling they would put pride in front and say ‘that’s for other people worse off then they are’,” said Kennedy.

Related: Hundreds of Princeton flood victims face homelessness at the end of March if there is no government intervention

Related: Mennonite group helps Princeton flood victims rebuild

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The Haws renovated the cabins after they purchased the property in 2005. Photo Facebook

Andrea DeMeer

About the Author: Andrea DeMeer

Andrea is the publisher of the Similkameen Spotlight.
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